Film Year: 2005
Film Length: 100 minutes
Aspect Ratio:[*] 2.35:1 Enhanced widescreen
Audio:[*] English 5.1 Surround
[*] English DTS 5.1 Surround
Film Rating: UNRATED
Release Date: October 18, 2005.
Entertainment Rating: /
Starring: Jennifer Garner (Elektra), Goran Visnjic (Mark Miller), Kirsten Prout (Abby Miller), Will Yun Lee (Kirigi), Terence Stamp (Stick)
Directed by: Rob Bowman
She was left for dead. Now she’s back with vengeance.
The movie Elektra is the response to the popularity of the Marvel female character from the Daredevil comic books as well as the movie made several years ago. Jennifer Garner is back reprising her role as this human, but emotionless sai-spinning superhero, ready to take a stab at any man standing in the way of her work. The Director’s Cut of Elektra is in response to the confused response from audiences who have seen the movie theatrically and that same version on DVD back in April. This film has been reworked to a small degree, but the end results are quite different making it feel like a much better - and different movie. Read on to find out why.
For those of you unfamiliar with the story, we learn that Elektra is brought back to life by Stick, the same man who taught Matt Murdoch/Daredevil how to fight. He’s a man who is very in touch with his inner self and the powers around him that he has this amazing ability resurrect. Learning the fighting skills that Daredevil has, Elektra comes back with even more of a vengeance. She is unable to get in touch with good and understands only violence and hate. Expelled by her sensei she is put back into the real world. But unlike Daredevil, she’s not here to help save people – she’s back to kill with a vengeance. She has no one in particular in mind, she’s just a top assassin who is requested by many. She has fantastic martial arts skills and has an ability to see into the future. She’s known to be quick and to whisper in the ear of the person before she kills them. If you were to catch a glimpse of her, she’s donned in a red satin suit and her good looks can kill.
But Elektra is not without her own problems. She is still a human and her feelings can get in the way of her work. Despite her wantonness to kill without emotion, she soon finds her weakness during her next assignment. Will this event signify an end to Elektra’s career as an assassin or will it elevate her soul to a new level? She will have to make some tough decisions and re-establish severed relationships, all while she’s hot on her heels running from another group of assassins more powerful than her. Her second life may time out quicker than her first.
With the theatrical cut of the film, I was unsure what direction the writers wanted to take this film. It was mixed with odd character development of a cold-blooded assassin but we saw little development beyond this. I also thought the theatrical cut of the movie failed to tell why all of a sudden this woman was so angry and taking such a vengeance. Sure, she died in the past, but that didn’t seem like enough…Lots of action, little character.
While the original cut was supposed to be an R rating, contractual agreements with the studio called for a PG-13 rating. Even though this movie is only a few minutes longer, many scenes have been tweaked because there was no time limitation for Bowman on the Director’s Cut as there was on the production schedule for the theatrical cut. Now the focus is on Elektra’s character rather than her actions, and thus shows more of her motivations that was simply absent from the theatrical release. As Bowman recently stated, theatrical audiences have to be clearly shown the plot of the film or else they might not understand the movie. Cutting the movie for a theatrical audience can be different than one for an audience of one.
The cuts in this movie are brief – some are added and there are other quick scenes that have been removed. My favourite addition of all is when Elektra sees a possible future if she failed and the deaths that result…I was caught by surprise with this scene and I’m sure you will be too.
The movie also was re-tweaked in the area of audio and video. You can read about these enhancements in their respective locations within this review.
VIDEO QUALITY /
The image quality has been re-colour timed for televisions. When comparing the two discs, it was difficult to see any major re-working. I think the biggest difference was the greens in the pictures. Some colours are brought out more whereas they weren’t on the theatrical release. Beyond that, everything looks about the same. The photography has a lot of silhouetted imagery and now I know that this was the intention of the filmmaker. The image does have dark and deep black levels that are solid without grain. The mild amount of edge enhancement is gone but the sometimes blurriness of the image remains.
I thought this DVD would have less of an orange-looking fleshtone, but it still remains on this disc so again, given the fact that the director was directly involved in this, this is the intention. I still feel this amount of warmth is a little unnatural but again, it is art after all. The aspect ratio is 2.35:1.
AUDIO QUALITY /
In my review of the theatrical cut of Elektra, I made this comment:
I’ve decided that this soundtrack was definitely designed for – and only for theatrical playback systems. It’s just not optimized for home theatre playback because of the obviously heavy EQing for theatrical systems. The bass was overpowering and the mid-bass in sound effects was overwhelming (didn’t affect the dialogue). While there is a lot of high frequency, I didn’t find it bright like other movie soundtracks sometimes suffer from; but that could be because I was deafened part-way through…This soundtrack is LOUD and I advise you to exercise caution if you also have your favourite “reference level” when watching movies. The need for ALL film soundtracks to be repurposed for home environments is desperately needed.
It appears someone was listening, and I’m extremely happy that this soundtrack has been reworked. It still is a loud soundtrack, but I didn’t find it as deafening as the theatrical version. The mid-bass hump is gone and the bass is still powerful. Dialogue is clear and never too emphasised, and the downbeat theme music never sounded better.
The music in this release is the star performer! It sounds incredibly spacious with a wide soundstage that extends behind the listener while only using the front speakers. In comparison, the theatrical version’s music sounds flat. This liveliness to the music makes the film more enjoyable and engaging. While most of Beck’s soundtrack has been left untouched, there is some new music in this film that is more introspective. All of it – detail, depth, soundstage, resolution is now improved.
DTS and Dolby Digital soundtracks are included just like the theatrical release. This time they are not selectable on the fly. When comparing, the DTS is more resolved in the midbass adding that extra bit of depth.
SPECIAL FEATURES /
On disc one you’ll find the commentary by Director Rob Bowman and Kevin Stitt. This is a great commentary to listen to as you’ll find these guys talking about the many versions of this film they wanted to do through production. It’s done on a scene by scene basis and they really get talking about the character of Elektra and how the film’s scenes changed over time to what we see it as today. It’s highly informative and not at all boring. I recommend taking a listen to this given that this IS the Director’s Cut and now you can hear it all from Bowman himself.
Time restraints have forced me to keep the review of Disc 2 features at a minimum but I will elaborate on them shortly. This disc includes:
[*] Relentless: The Making of Elektra - Part 1: Production[*] Relentless: The Making of Elektra - Part 2: Post-Production[*] Showdown at the Well: Multi Angle Daileies: Take 3, Take 5, Take 7, & Take 9[*] Alternate/Extended Scenes Alternate Opening (with optional commentary by Rob Bowman and Kevin Stitt): Young Elektra Throws Coin Into, Wishing Well, Young Elektra Buries Sais, Sais Out Of Ground, Alternate Elektra & Abby, & Go Game[*] Galleries: Costumes, Production Design, Weapons, & Unit Photography[*] Storyboards: Elektra in Pool, Mark's House, Alley/Hawk, Abby in the Woods, In the Maze, Kirigi's Death, & Natchios Estate
On this disc, the three deleted scenes that are the theatrical version are here on this disc too and include optional commentary with Rob Bowman and Kevin Stitt. They are about five minute total and one of them includes the cameo by Ben Affleck in his roll as Matt Murdoch; a scene that I’m glad was edited. There is no other reference to Daredevil in the movie making this scene useless. Plus, Affleck is in casual attire: running shoes, pants and a long-sleeves shirt and it looks like he just stopped by to film a scene on a coffee break (not to mention the poor dialogue and unconvincing performance).
Missing from this release, but present on the theatrical release is the minute-and-a-half San Diego Comic Con Presentation as well as the Inside the Editing Room featurette presented by the director. They aren’t worth going after if you don’t have the theatrical version.
IN THE END...
This version of Elektra is much more satisfying and the emphasis is on both Elektra’s character and the action. With the audio and video improvements, this is a great DVD purchase. I hope that all movies will be re-tweaked for home theatres, it only makes sense. Movies have a very limited theatrical run but they stay on home video for the rest of their lives. Why not give it the proper treatment? I think studios will have the opportunity to do this as they re-release movies specifically on HD optical discs. Knowing that these discs are for the home market and that home theatre is more than a niche market, all movies should be given the same amount of care that Elektra has just received.
October 19, 2005.